- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 2, 2002

Uh-oh: The fat activists are out to squash the animal activists over Elvis. It is a culture war of, well, generous proportions.
For their new "Viva Las Veggies" campaign, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has sent a tubby Elvis Presley impersonator on a national tour to promote vegetarianism. Overweight Americans, they say, "shake, rattle and roll" because they love their steaks and chops just as much as the late singer did.
PETA's faux Elvis makes his public appearances astride a toilet, most recently outside San Antonio's Alamo on Monday afternoon. Meat eaters, he tells his audience, are "four times as likely to be obese as vegetarians."
The Rubenesque are not amused. It's sizeism, they say and bad health advice.
"It's not acceptable to portray other groups this way," said Jeanette DePatie, spokeswoman for the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance. "We wouldn't see Asian or African-Americans, short people or disabled people in a campaign like this. So why fat people? This promotes the idea that it is shameful to be fat."
Hunters and scientists are the groups PETA should attack, she said yesterday.
"We're not to blame for hurt or dead animals. Many of us send donations to PETA. I think they are just preying on people's fears of getting fat for the sake of their agenda," Miss DePatie said.
"We are not against fat people. We are against fat," countered PETA spokeswoman Ingrid Newkirk. "Obesity is a sign of a societal problem. We didn't used to be fat. Our children did not use to waddle. And we need to stop being so sensitive about pointing out that people are overweight."
The "fat Elvis" campaign was crafted by Elvis Presley lovers, she said.
"And would we be lying if we said Elvis died fat and constipated, sitting on the toilet?" Miss Newkirk asked.
She is also weary of excruciating sensitivity in a politically correct nation.
"Nothing is acceptable to mention anymore. Why, if we used a bunch of svelte models in our campaigns, I'd hear from all the feminists about it," the PETA spokeswoman said.
"We can't talk about beer, sex, fat. You'd think we were under Taliban rule."
Meanwhile, the International Size Acceptance Association is taking PETA to task for promoting the idea that vegetarianism is a viable dieting method.
"ISAA must summarily condemn PETA's insistent antagonism based on faulty information. Vegetarianism does not mean weight loss," the group said in a written statement, calling the campaign "ill-informed and malevolent."
In recent months, the group also attacked PETA for another ad campaign featuring a photo of a fat belly and the motto, "Don't Pay for Two Seats: Go Vegetarian," created after Southwest Airlines decided to double-charge its rotund passengers earlier this year.
The ISAA is calling for a nationwide boycott of PETA by "the size-acceptance community" to help stop "fat hatred."
The community itself is ready to roll.
"Funny, I was a fat vegetarian for 10 years," one visitor wrote at www.bigfatblog.com, an online community of those who are comfortable with their size.
Indeed, the testimony of vegetarians who weighed in at 210, 230 and even 486 pounds chronicle the experience of the beefy but meatless.
"The PETA people are just kidding themselves. They claim they're against fat, not fat people. Well, you can't separate those two," said fat activist Miss DePatie, a certified fitness instructor who has produced her own exercise video for big women.
"It's called the 'Fat Chick' video," she said with emphasis. "Because I am the fat chick."

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